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How to Select the Right Welding Certification Program near Oneonta Alabama

Oneonta Alabama construction welder at work siteChoosing the ideal welder vocational school near Oneonta AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses

Oneonta Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Oneonta AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Alternatives

Oneonta Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Oneonta AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with various kinds of welds
  • Perform in compliance with contract specifications

As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.

What to Ask Welder Vocational Schools

Oneonta Alabama welder welding electrical pole

Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Oneonta AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Oneonta AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Oneonta AL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Oneonta AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Oneonta AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Oneonta AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oneonta AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Oneonta Welder Trade Schools

Find the Best Oneonta Welding Program for Certification

Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Oneonta AL.

 

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